Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup is made with chicken broth, savory vegetables, tender chicken, Orzo pasta, herbs and fresh lemon for a zesty kick! It’s a healthy soup recipe that is comforting and flavorful!
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I admit, at first I was hesitant to try this Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup (maybe it’s because of my love of Lemon Desserts??), but once I did I was completely hooked.
The dish has a great balance between the tangy freshness of lemon and the savory flavor of the vegetables and tender chicken. Don’t worry — the lemon doesn’t make it overly lemony, but it adds a lovely burst of flavor when the soup has finished cooking.
Ready in under an hour, it’s quick to whip up using simple ingredients you may already have in your pantry!
It’s a great recipe for any occasion, from busy weekdays to special occasion family get-togethers, or just when you need a dose of pure comfort.
For more easy one-pot dinner recipes with Orzo pasta, try my Sun Dried Tomato and Spinach Orzo recipe, One Pan Tuscan Orzo with Chicken, Garlic Parmesan Orzo Pasta, and my One Pan Chicken Meatballs with Orzo!
- Oil: I use canola oil to sauté the vegetables, but olive oil or vegetable oil is a good substitute if you have it on hand instead.
- Vegetables: use the classic trio of carrots, celery, and onions for a classic savory flavor base for the soup.
- Garlic: freshly minced garlic will give the soup an aromatic and robust taste. You can use garlic powder in a pinch, but you won’t need as much.
- Seasoning: use salt and black pepper to enhance the flavor of the soup, while dried herbs pack in a ton of flavor. Use parsley, thyme, and basil for a delicious flavor.
- Broth: I tend to use a low-sodium chicken broth for the liquid base of soups, as it gives a great depth of flavor and the low-sodium versions allow me to better control the saltiness of the meal.
- Chicken: Skinless, boneless chicken breasts work well to give you tender chicken pieces in every bite. You can use skinless, boneless chicken thighs for a richer flavor if you prefer.
- Orzo: I love using orzo pasta in soup because it soaks up the delicious flavors of the soup and isn’t a heavy pasta.
- Lemon: The zest and juice from a fresh lemon provide the characteristic tangy note, elevating the soup’s fresh flavor.
- Garnish: use some fresh parsley to brighten up the dish at the end, adding color and extra nutrients.
How to Make Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup
This recipe is easy to make and is ready in just 40 minutes. Full instructions are included in the recipe card below.
- Sauté vegetables: Sauté the onion, carrots, and celery in oil until the onions begin to brown.
- Add seasonings: Add the garlic, salt, parsley, thyme, basil, and pepper. Cook and stir.
- Pour in broth and add chicken: Add the broth, deglaze the pot, add in the chicken breasts, and cook.
- Shred chicken: Remove and shred the chicken breasts.
- Add orzo and chicken and cook: Stir in the orzo and cook until al dente. Stir the shredded chicken back into the soup.
- Add lemon juice and parsley: Squeeze the lemon juice into the pot, then add in the parsley. Taste, and adjust seasonings, and serve hot.
Lemon Chicken Soup with Orzo FAQs
Orzo pasta is a small, rice-shaped pasta. It can be cooked either like pasta (boiled and then drained) or it can be cooked in the same way rice would be cooked (simmering in liquid until it’s fully absorbed). Any kind of small pasta can be used in this recipe for a similar result.
Store your leftover lemon orzo soup in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3-4 days. Allow it to cool completely to room temperature before putting it in the fridge. Reheat in the microwave or on the stovetop with a little bit of extra broth if needed.
Keep in mind that the pasta will soften as it sits, so if you prefer your pasta al dente you may want to cook it separately and add just before serving.
Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup freezes well, so it’s great for prepping ahead of time! If you’re planning to do this, cook the soup without the orzo or garnishes, and let it cool. Once cooled, store it in a freezer-safe container and freeze it for up to 1 month. Defrost and reheat on the stovetop. Add in cooked orzo, stir and season, then garnish and serve hot.
Once again, you may wish to cook and add the pasta separately, depending on your tastes.
Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup Recipe Variations
- Use other garnishes: Add some freshly grated parmesan cheese, a sprinkle of red pepper flakes for a touch of heat, lemon zest, or some lemon wedges for extra citrus flavor.
- Chicken broth substitutions: Opt for homemade chicken stock or homemade chicken broth if you have it, or use bouillon cubes dissolved in water in a pinch. Use vegetable broth for a slightly different flavor.
- Change the seasonings: Change up the flavors by using an Italian Seasoning mix, or by adding in some spice with cajun seasoning or red pepper flakes.
- Make it creamy: Add in some heavy cream or Greek yogurt before adding the parsley to give your soup a creamy flavor and texture.
Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup is a great one-pot meal that can be served on its own, or you can add some side dishes to make it into a complete meal, or to make it go a bit further.
Try it with my Cheesy Baked Asparagus or Honey Glazed Carrots for even more comforting flavors, or some Roasted Vegetables, Air Fryer Green Beans, or Green Beans with Bacon to add nutrients and color to the table!
More Delicious Soup Recipes To Try
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Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup
- 1 tablespoon canola oil
- 2 large carrots (peeled and chopped)
- 2 ribs celery (chopped)
- ½ medium onion finely diced
- 4 cloves garlic minced
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon dried parsley
- ½ teaspoon dried thyme
- ½ teaspoon dried basil
- ⅛ teaspoon black pepper
- 6 cups low sodium chicken broth
- 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts (about ¾lb or 340g)
- 1 cup orzo pasta uncooked (170 grams) (use ¾ cup for a thinner soup)
- 1 lemon
- fresh parsley
- salt and pepper to taste
- Add oil to a 4-quart Dutch oven or soup pot and heat over medium-high heat.
- Add carrots, celery, and onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are beginning to brown, about 3–4 minutes.
- Add garlic, salt, parsley, thyme, basil, and pepper. Cook and stir for 1 minute.
- Add broth and chicken breasts and bring back to a simmer over medium-high heat.
- Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and cook for 10 minutes until the chicken is cooked through. Remove the chicken breasts and shred with two forks.
- Stir in orzo and simmer for 8–10 minutes, or until al dente. When the noodles are cooked, stir the shredded chicken back into the soup and add the juice of the lemon (you can add it gradually and taste as you go to get it just as you like it).
- Stir in fresh chopped parsley, taste, and adjust seasonings. Serve hot.
Ingredients and Substitutions:
- Vegetables: I don’t recommend skipping any of the classic mirepoix combo, but feel free to add in more vegetables if you prefer! Green beans, peas, fresh spinach, baby spinach, or other leafy greens can be added at the end of the cook time for more color and nutrients.
- Chicken breasts: you can use pre-cooked Shredded Chicken or leftover chopped Baked Chicken Breast if you have any. Boneless, skinless chicken thighs or other dark meat from chicken also work great!
- Lemon: if you aren’t sure about the lemon, you can leave it out, but I recommend adding it slowly, and you might be surprised at how much you enjoy the flavor! It adds delicious freshness and acidity.
- Orzo: whole wheat orzo would work well too, or you can use any other kind of small pasta. If you want to store your soup and serve it later, you may want to cook the pasta separately and add it just before serving so that it doesn’t become mushy.
- Store: Store your leftover lemon orzo soup in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3-4 days. Allow it to cool completely to room temperature before putting it in the fridge. Reheat in the microwave or on the stovetop with a little bit of extra broth if needed.
- Freeze: Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup freezes so well, so it’s great for prepping ahead of time! If you’re planning to do this, cook the soup without the orzo or garnishes, and let it cool. Once cooled, store it in a freezer-safe container and freeze it for up to 1 month. Defrost and reheat on the stovetop. Add in cooked orzo, stir and season, then garnish and serve hot.
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